Report: Team Kong Captures 3rd at 2003 CWR
1. Team Kong (L-R): Rage, T-Bone, K.C. Taylor,
Coop, John Helmick
So it all began with
one simple proposal from Coop: “How about this, Rage: I’ll captain
the team if you get us some runners.”
the deal was struck for our entry in the 2003 Civil War Relay…a
50 miler starting at Autzen
Stadium in Eugene, Oregon and finishing at Linn Benton Community
College on the south end of Albany. The theme of this relay refers
to the annual football match up between the University of Oregon
Ducks and the Oregon State University Beavers …fondly referred
to in these parts as “The Civil War.”
2. An anxious Captain Coop paces as Helmick and
Rage tally it all up
I definitely got the
better end of the deal than Coop, as the team captain typically
deals with most of the logistics. While I never mind doing it
for the great people I get to run with, I appreciated Coop’s offer.
A couple of Sunday runs later and we had a full boat: Rage, Coop,
T-Bone, K.C. Taylor and John Helmick.
on my wild guesses at each of our 5k times, Team Kong found themselves
starting with “The Big Dogs” in the last starting wave of runners.
I was pumped until a volunteer overheard me talkin’ smackto another
team that would be trying to hang with Team Kong while shooting
the curl on Wave Big Dog. I assumed they too would be heaping
on yet another heavy dose of envy I’d been getting all morning
regarding my monogrammed starting robe with “Rage” embroidered
on the back.
“Nice robe buddy, but
the only reason we started you guys in Wave Big Dog was we had
some of our staff who wanted to sleep in and still get to see
you guys trying to get the keys out of your rig again this year…”
a not-so-discrete reference to our mental indiscretion from last
year’s CWR. My beaming smile slowly dissipated and I slunk back
to our rig.
3. Do we look fast, lost or what?
And what a rig it was. Coop scored us a
bonafide crummy. A six-pack, four-door diesel pickup, complete
with manual transmission from which to deploy our runners.
Captain Coop took
the stick first, followed by T-Bone, John, K.C. and Rage. With
each leg roughly two miles, you’d think we could prepare our runners
with some useful information, right? Having done this race so
many times we would have figured that out by now. Negative.
4. The fastest tree planting crew you will ever
The only leg I DIDN’T
want to run was Leg 4. I hadn’t run any other leg on about a half
dozen CWRs and I was looking for something new…especially after
hosing my back shortly after this race last year. I’ll bet “Lumbar
Leg #14” might have
had something to do with it. I told K.C. I’d recommend putting
him on #14 to Captain Coop ONLY if he promised me to take the
downhill responsibly…unlike my freewheeling, chaotic turnover
from last year. He agreed. The third and fourth positions are
where I suggested putting our strongest runners, believing they
could chew up more asphalt on those two more hilly legs than I
could possibly fritter away batting clean up on the flatter and
shorter fifth position should we find ourselves in a dog fight.
5. Coop ponders how to improve runner deployment from helm of
6. John Helmick hammers Leg 13
T-Bone took the stick
on Leg #2 after Coop dropped everyone in Wave Big Dog. We just
stared at him with our mouths hanging open. Not even
a “nice leg, Coop.” Just a couple of classic Friday/Gannon-like
all-business head nods and climbed back into the crummy. (Note:
Not to take anything from Coop’s effort, but Wave Big Dog was
a bit thin due to a couple of teams who caught the eye of the
race director by not waiting their turn. Lucky for them, they
weren’t DQ’ed. We caught them at about Leg #6 sitting out a 15
minute penalty. At least it wasn’t raining).
7. Coop plays it cool while Rage and T-Bone lose
it for Manciata's camera
8. K.C. Taylor blisters Leg #24 and sends Rage to The House 9.
Wendy Simmons stays focused while Rage loses the sportmanship
award for Team Kong
T-Bone refused to give
up any of Coop’s hard work and gave the stick to John…who set
the tone early on who the boss of Team Kong would be all day long,
darn near running sub-11:00 on his opening leg before handing
off to K.C. John and K.C. were our 3-4 punch and Captain Coop
knew they’d be passing teams all day long. K.C. did not disappoint
and I knew I was going to have to step up my effort for what my
team mates had just opened with.
And so it went…all
day long…and thanks to the volunteers, including our own Manciata,
the race was a huge success…right down to the hot showers and
last slice of pizza, which once again, was
still hot and plentiful for the entire field. Jack Spaulding,
the race director, took care of every detail as he always does.
Without Jack, the racing in Eugene wouldn’t be the same. When
Jack is involved, it’s going to be a very well run event for runners
and walkers of all abilities. Thanks, Jack! You made our day!
Team Kong finished
in 5 hours 16 minutes and some change, good for third place overall
and as the only masters division team in the field this year.
OSU did better than they did on the football field, winning the
10. Even Rage can't lose the lead that Helmick, T-Bone, Taylor
and Coop have given him
And what about the
football game, you might ask? Ducks 34, Beavers 21.
And that’s The Truth.
11. 4 humans and 1 horse.
12. K.C. takes care of business on Leg #4 13. Manciata runs one
tight exchange zone
14. T-Bone, Coop and Rage 15. Coop hands off to T-Bone after dropping
everyone else in Wave Big Dog.
16. The start. Coop is like a caged lion. Bone could care less.
17. Team 32 "Silver Streaks" runner smiles for the camera
Report: 2002 Civil War Relay
Photos courtesy of Todd Bosworth
This was Coop's gig.
All the way, baby. Running a race with his son for the first time
convinced even the reclusive Manciata to join the band, especially
when I told him Boz (e.g Todd Bosworth) would also be carrying
the stick on this 5 member team, 50 mile relay from Autzen Stadium
in Eugene to Linn Benton Community College.
The weather usually
is terrible for this event, but today it was pretty darn good
for November in Oregon.
The day had a rather
ominous beginning, as a very unforgiving self-locking mechanism
on our rental van apparently had some serious issues with Team
"Leveraged Synergies" (sorry about the name, Coop) desire to participate
in this event. A few phone calls later to triple A, along with
some negotiating with the race director to delay our team's scheduled
start time (not to mention administering some serious counseling
to a distraught Coop) and a tow truck driver getting the keys
back into our hands, we were finally off! We got into the last
wave to depart with five minutes to spare!
Manciata led off with
a spirited leg and handed off to Coop. Despite my weak attempts
at defending his sorry ass for the locking the key in the van
thing, he was basically defenseless as Boz laid down the first
salvo of many more to come: "You can pick it up any time. This
ain't the #$&!!! Portland Marathon, you know."
Next, Coop handed
off to his son, Jasper. It doesn't get any better than that, in
my book. As Henry Longhurst would say: "There's nothing else we
can all do but watch." Dad and son slapped hands and I peeled
off my sweats. I took Leg 4-the only leg I have ever run on my
previous three CWRs. I knew it well, and darn near remembered
every one of my splits.
I got to Egge Sand
and Gravel with a decent opening leg and handed off to our anchor,
Mr. Bosworth, who can bat cleanup on my team ANY TIME, baby. I
love watching this guy run. Good turnover, very efficient and
fast. He's very tough. Loves to throw a hard pace at you early
just to hear you suck air and see how bad you want it. When he
shows up at races, I can almost hear the collective groan from
those (especially me) who had ideas on some cushy age group hardware,
you understand what I'm sayin'? You know what I'm talkin' about?
I took the stick again
at leg 9, a good speed benchmark for how far my speed had deteriorated
over the years. I remembered running this leg at sub-11:00 one
year with a great tailwind. Not today, and I don't think the wind
had anything to do with it. There's a big difference between 42
and 46 years old. I was way off, but Bruce took my mind off my
aging process making sure I didn't get lost. Boz made up for my
pathetic effort on the next leg.
Now, we started getting
into the hills. Bruce, Coop and Jasper kept us going, with Jasper
getting a pretty good taste of what it's like when you get some
hills thrown at you when you're tired. He seemed to be pacing
himself well, and I was impressed with how he was handling his
Bruce was definitely
back. Through three legs, he showed no signs of letting up....just
rock solid running.
I redeemed myself with
a solid third leg (Leg 14), pretty steep on the first mile and
severe downhill on the second mile. I ran it in 12:18 and couldn't
remember ever being under 12:25 on that leg. Must have moved the
exchange point, but whose counting anyway, right?
Things started to
get tough when we got out of the hills and onto the flats: Wind.
Oh good. I'd rather do hills any day than grind it out on a long
straight stretch, head down and the only thing in the distance
is a couple of trees that never seem to get any closer. We all
were starting to succumb to the leg 4 blues, but the amazing Boz
and Bruce continued to hold pace.
Finally, Coop was
the first one to smell the barn, methodically taking care of his
2.3 mile last leg and handing off to Jasper, who found out what
the fifth leg of the Civil War Relay is like.
I managed a 12:02
on my last leg and we all hurried down to the track at Linn Benton
Community College to greet Boz at the finish. My suggestion to
Bruce that we stop at an Elmer's restaurant on the way home and
debrief on how each of us could have done better was met with
an icy stare. I decided instead to send him some of my notes,
which included how we might deploy runners more efficiently using
smoke jumper techniques.
We finished well off
one overly optimistic team captain's predicted finish, but managed
a top 10 finish at 5 hours, 35 minutes. Not bad for four old guys
and a rookie.
And that's The Truth.
War Relay 2000
War Relay 2000 runners hit the wet, leaf-strewn pavement.
War Relay sounds like something that should be happening in the
Southeastern U.S. Some kind of blue and gray costume thing, right?
Close, but it's more of an orange, black, green and yellow kind
of a thing. It's a fifty mile relay. Five person teams with each
runner doing five two-mile legs starting at Autzen Stadium in
Eugene, Oregon and ending at the Linn Benton Community College,
located near Corvallis.
colors you might ask? This particular relay is about the biggest
football game in the state of Oregon: Oregon State versus Oregon.
This year, it was really a big deal with Oregon (Ducks) ranked
5th and Oregon State (Beavers) ranked 8th, respectively. It
was the 104th match-up between these two teams. The Beavs won
23-13, knocking the Ducks out of what would have been their
second Rose Bowl appearance in 42 years. The win put the Beavs
in the Fiesta Bowl for a BCS game. Despite the loss, the Ducks
were headed for the Holiday Bowl.
Oregon State is an agriculture and engineering school and Oregon
is a liberal arts school. How liberal you might ask? In a recent
survey, Oregon was also ranked the #1 most politically active
campus in the U.S. To give some overall perspective of what
that means, the University of California at Berkeley, the lighting
rod of campus unrest during the Viet Nam War era, was ranked
5th. Looks like the Bears are a bit too far right of center
for the UO these days.
the rap on the Ducks of their supposed liberal community (…with
a pro-business city council and mayor?) is true, I was waiting
to see all of the teams with tie dye shirts and leather running
shoes. Where were they? Maybe they were laying low after a stinging
loss. On the other hand, a U.S. Navy team pounded their chests
for all 50 miles, doing push ups and marching three abreast
as they proudly carried a huge Beaver flag the whole way. Word
has it that, for national security purposes, a strict internal
policy is in effect at the U.S. Navy, and all other branches
of the military, which prohibits any association with Eugene
(which probably explains no Duck Navy team). The course was
buzzing with speculation that special visas had to be granted
for their runners for the first four legs, which took place
within the Eugene city limits, along with some lengthy post-race
if to further underscore their football victory, the Beavs even
fielded a team from their track and cross country programs,
winning by about a third of an hour. While it was not an official
PAC-10 event for Team Killerwatts (Tommy Williams, Bill Welch,
Mel Damewood, Mike Logan and Bert Dunn) either, we still came
in sixth overall out of 54 teams, while winning our Division.
conditions were very cold (25 degrees at the start). Nevertheless,
it beat the heck out of wind and rain, which is the usual late
November weather. We would all need to be civil to one another,
as we were pretty evenly split between Duck and Beaver fans
in our van. The Ducks would have to suppress the urge to tune
their Volvo's…er…van's radio to the local affiliate's broadcast
of National Public Radio all the way to Linn Benton CC, while
the Beavs would need to make sure they did not crunch too loudly
from their bags of pork rinds.
the circumstances of mixing partisan sports fans in a tightly
enclosed space for an entire day might set the stage for a dysfunctional
experience, it's all business when Team Killerwatts tees it
up. Tommy, nursing a sore calf before the race, re-tweaked it
right out of the shoot on the first leg. Two mile legs in and
out of a van every forty five minutes in 25 degree weather was
just about the worst thing for it, too. He waved us off all
day long as we offered to double up. He ran tough. Bill, Mel,
Bert and I followed his lead and averaged 6:24's as a team.
Not bad for a bunch of masters all running from a serious mid
the end, at Linn Benton Community College, all of the partisan
sports bickering was set aside and Beavers and Ducks alike celebrated
their accomplishments over some hot pizza.
Beavs and Go Ducks!